It might be time for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to invest in new signage: they’re being sued by two Czech tourists who claim the existing information tricks visitors into believing there is an entrance fee to see stone engravings from Ancient Egypy, the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, and the best places to hide from overbearing parents. (The Met’s policy has always been one of suggested donation.) Reuters reports:
“MMA has misled, and regularly misleads, members of the general public to believe, on all days of the week during times when the MMA is open, that they are required to pay the Admission Fees in order to enter Museum Exhibition Halls,” the lawsuit claimed.
Museum spokesman Harold Holzer said in an email that the museum is “confident that our longstanding pay-what-you-wish admissions policy meets the spirit and letter of our agreement with the city … and ensures that the Met is fully accessible to and affordable by all.”
But wait! Weiss & Hiller, the law firm representing the tourists and several unidentified museum members, has toured this exhibit before—they filed a similar lawsuit in the fall of 2012:
The museum members, Theodore Grunewald and Patricia Nicholson, who filed suit in state court in Manhattan, argue in court papers that the museum makes it difficult to understand the fee policy, a practice intended to “deceive and defraud” the public. The suit, reported by The New York Post, cites asurvey commissioned by Mr. Grunewald and Ms. Nicholson in which more than 360 visitors to the museum were asked if they knew the fee was optional; 85 percent of visitors responded that they believed they were required to pay. Their suit asks the court to prevent the museum from charging any fees.
When the Met first started recommending admission fees in the mid-1970s, signs hung around the entryway read “Pay what you wish, but you must pay something.”